House on Mango Street

by

Author: Sandra Cisneros

Title: The House on Mango Street

Genre: Coming of age stories; Mexican-American women’s fiction; Novels in verse

Publication Date: 1994

Number of pages: 134

Geographical Setting: Chicago

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: This novel, written by a poet, is a series of short vignettes told by 12-year-old Esperanza, which weave into an over-arching story. Esperanza’s family has just moved to Mango Street, in Chicago’s Hispanic district. Although they now live in a house instead of an apartment, it still isn’t the kind of house Esperanza’s parents have always promised, with bedrooms for everyone and stairs that aren’t just hallway stairs. All four children and two parents still have to sleep all in one room. Through Esperanza’s eyes we get short character sketches of her family, her annoying sister, Nenny, her new friends, and all her neighbors, both beautiful and eccentric. Esperanza longs to leave the neighborhood and someday have a beautiful house of all her own, but she is reminded not to forget where she comes from.

Appeal:character-driven, moving, reflective, strong sense of place, spare, stylistically complex, compelling, engaging, lyrical, bittersweet, introspective, thought provoking

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character-driven, strong sense of place, stylistically complex

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?): 3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.) When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago This memoir chronicles a young girl’s childhood in Puerto Rico, and the jarring experience of moving to New York as an adolescent. Written in a lyrical prose, this book echoes the poetry that Cisneros is famous for.

2.) Chicanas of 18th Street: Narratives of a Movement from Latino Chicago by Leonard G. Ramirez, Yenelli Flores, Maria Gamboa and Isaura Gonzalez Following six different women who are active in their communities, Chicana’s of 18th Street illustrates the desire to raise one’s community and fight for gender, race and class equality.

3.) Mexican Chicago (Images of America) by Rita Arias Jirasek This book documents the Mexican community in Chicago from 1900 to present day, and explores neighborhoods such as Pilsen, Little Village and South Deering. Told from a first person voice and studded with photographs from family archives, museums and university collections, the stories of Mexican-Americans comes alive for the reader.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.) Girl by Blake Nelson Although this book is different in that it’s a coming of age story about a girl growing up in the lily-white suburbs of Portland, 16-year-old Andrea still feels the pull to experience something outside of her narrow community, and uses the burgeoning music scene to escape. Like Mango Street, this book is much more about the language it is written in than it is about the plot.

2.) How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez Four sisters from the Dominican Republic come of age in New York. What makes this book a little different is that the girls grow down instead of up…it starts when they are adult and continues backward in time until they are small girls in the Dominican Republic.

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie Like Esperanza, Junior also longs to leave the reservation and make something better of himself. He begins this journey by transferring from the high school on the rez to the local white high school, where he is the only Indian. Beautifully illustrated by Ellen Forney, this story also deals with the struggle of wanting to leave the community you grew up in, but not wanting to forget where you came from.

Name: Jessica

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